Deadmau5 doesn’t like his new album. Sure, he thinks it’s a rushed, slapped-together job that’s laughable, but he also just bought his freedom from a long-time deal with Virgin EMI in favor of working with Kobalt to have total creative control over mau5trap, and subsequently every facet of his brand and music.
While the new LP isn’t polished to deadmau5′ liking, legions of fans are loving it, and W:/2016ALBUM/ is certainly another brick in the legacy tower of deadmau5′ career. But it’s a far cry from the pinnacle, and elusive “perfect album” he’s been thinking about crafting for the last 10 years.
Looking back on how deadmau5 was touting Project Entropy, many thought that might end up becoming his aforementioned brush with perfection; if only the plug hadn’t been pulled on the ambitious idea. However, now that he’s free of major label constraints, and has a fresh album out, with a tour that he is excited about, we may see a very different side of mau5 over the next couple years.
He’s just backed up 13 years of project files, including about 550 tracks (most of which are unreleased), has a disgustingly awesome new studio, and has sunken into a secluded mansion in rural Canada. For all intents and purposes, Zimmerman is starting with a clean slate from this point forward, and the implications are huge.
“I had to experiment with the majors to really understand just how much they suck. But now I have a great team in place, shit actually gets done, and it’s like, ‘why the fuck was I with EMI again? What did they ever do for me?’ Maybe the whole major label thing works for some guys who are like, ‘Just put the music out and give us whatever you’re gonna give us.’ Ignorance is bliss, right?”
Many other artists, including Daft Punk and Porter Robinson, have passed up on lucrative record deals in favor of more creative control, and the results have been nothing less than iconic. Consider Porter Robinson’s risky pivot to the uncharted style of Worlds, and signing with Astralwerks to fully realize creative vision. It was a move that jeopardized his status as a king of electro, but paid off in massive acclaim from both fans and critics alike. The same could be said for Daft Punk’s decision to leave Virgin and partner with Columbia Records for Random Access Memories. Columbia also happens to be the label responsible for the majority of disco hits from the era the duo was aiming to recreate with RAM. Coincidence? Not likely.
To draw yet another similarity between these artists, there are the fictional worlds and groundbreaking live performances they’ve created to supplement their music. Even from the limited advertising produced for Project Entropy, it’s clear that deadmau5 was aiming for an immersive visual experience to coincide with the auditory, something that’s becoming a standard in electronic dance music, and with what we’ve seen of the Cube 2.1 so far, he’s going to do just that on this new tour.
This isn’t to say that any of these artists is comparable to the other, nor am I saying they’re the same, replaceable, or anything that could be twisted to be inflammatory. I’m simply drawing from the history of artists who’ve been in similar positions in an attempt to decode what’s in store for the future of deadmau5 and mau5trap as a whole. Whatever happens, the years ahead are looking bright.